By Katie Nugent
Special to goholycross.com
Within minutes of speaking with senior men's soccer captain and goalie Thomas Booth, it is easy to understand why sports and family are so important to him. He's been involved in sports since he was born, spending his childhood on the sidelines cheering on his two older brothers, Dennis and Dave, who went on to play college lacrosse. When it was time for Booth to take the field, his parents Warren and Catherine Booth were there every step of the way. He thanks his parents everyday for the many sacrifices they made to take him and his brothers to practices and games.
It was during his sophomore year in high school that tragedy struck the family. His mother, Catherine, passed away at one of his high school soccer games after suffering a brain hemorrhage. Rather than have such a difficult experience at a young age slow down his career, Booth views it as inspiration. "I always thought it was some sort of sign that soccer was what she wanted me to pursue," says Booth.
Booth and his mother had a very unique bond. He recalls that some of his fondest memories were with his mom driving in the car up and down the east coast to various soccer tournaments. At an age when most kids are embarrassed to talk to their parents, Booth and his mother were able to talk candidly about soccer, school and friends. "I think of her every time I step onto the field," says Booth. "And I feel it always gives me that extra bit of energy to go above my abilities."
And Booth's abilities are considerable. Named to the All-Patriot League second team last year, Booth made a career high 76 saves and allowed only 16 goals, second-best in school history.
Earlier this season he was named the BRINE Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Week for the third time in his Holy Cross career. That week Booth recorded his 13th and 14th career shutouts in wins over Albany and Colgate. He made nine saves during the week, including seven stops against defending Patriot League champion Colgate.
Booth's most memorable moment on the soccer field came during his sophomore year while playing against American. Holy Cross was down 2-0, but was able to tie it up late in the second half. During the overtime, junior and fellow captain Kyle Miller headed the ball in to win the game for the Crusaders. "I just remember everyone charging the field," Booth remembers with a smile on his face. "[Former Holy Cross head coach] Elvis Comrie started running over and gave me a huge hug and we continued to go over to the rest of the team where I hopped on the pile of about 25 kids." The game sealed a Patriot League regular season title for Holy Cross as well as earning a home-bid for the Patriot League tournament.
One major challenge that Booth and his teammates faced during their time here was losing Comrie. "He brought out the best in me and made me realize my potential," said Booth. "It's tough when you need to move on from something like that."
It is always difficult to transition from one coach to another, but this transition brought the team closer together in the end. During the period when there was no head coach the players had to organize practice times and hold each other accountable for coming to practices. As a leader on the team, Booth reminded his teammates to just focus on soccer for the few hours they spent together on the field each day. Ultimately, it was the new head coach, Ted Priestly that became the unifying force for the team during this difficult transition.
Once the 2009 season comes to an end, Booth's future is bright. He aspires to continue playing soccer after graduation in a professional capacity. For the past two summers he has played for the Premier Development League, a development league for college students that acts as a feeder into professional teams. Being drafted in the MLS draft is a long shot coming from a smaller school, but there are other options including the USL, an independent minor league. With the kind of inspiration Booth has demonstrated in his four years at Holy Cross, his aspirations look to be quite attainable.
Booth will earn his degree in physics from Holy Cross. After he finishes his soccer career, he would like to attend graduate school for engineering.
When asked what he will miss most about Holy Cross, one thing came to mind quickly - soccer. The soccer team has been a major aspect of his life both on and off the field since arriving at Holy Cross. "Being part of a great academic atmosphere and having such high quality teammates has been a blessing," says Booth. "I now realize how important the meaning of team truly is."
Thomas and his teammates will play in the regular season finale against Army on Saturday, Nov. 7 in West Point, N.Y.. For a webcast of the game click on the following link: Holy Cross vs. Army